As top brass talks Cabinet, Punjab CM flies to Delhi

Holds talks with Rahul | ‘Sulking’ Jakhar consulted | Manpreet too in Capital | Announcement soon

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23

Having considered all permutations and combinations in finalising the name of MLAs to be included in the Cabinet, Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi held a meeting with party leader Rahul Gandhi in Delhi late this evening. He also held talks with Punjab affairs incharge Harish Rawat.

At short notice, Channi, who was attending an event in Jalandhar, flew to Delhi in a chartered plane from Amritsar airport. Channi was accompanied by two officers, but neither PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu, nor CM’s deputies Sukhjinder Randhawa and OP Soni accompanied him to the national capital. Sidhu is said to be in Amritsar.

Former Finance Minister Manpreet Badal was also stated to be at Delhi’s Punjab Bhavan, the venue of the meeting. Badal has been playing an active role ever since Channi took over as CM. With less than 90 days left for the model code of conduct to kick in, time is running out for the government to show results.

Sources privy to developments said the party leadership did not want to drop all the ministers who were part of the Capt Amarinder government as they along with disgruntled leaders could align with the former Chief Minister, who has taken on the party high command over his unceremonious exit as CM.

Former PCC chief Sunil Jakhar is learnt to have been taken on board regarding the selection of new ministers. Jakhar, who last evening accompanied Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Vadra on a flight from Chandigarh to Delhi, held a meeting with Rahul this morning.

Having been ignored for the CM’s post, Jakhar had objected to the “Sikh versus Hindi” narrative propounded by certain party leaders. Later in the day, party leader AICC general secretary (organisation) KC Venugopal and Harish Rawat besides Ajay Maken and Harish Chaudhary called upon Jakhar.

With the CM and two Deputy CMs seated, a total of 15 names for the Council of Ministers are to be announced. This does not include the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

The central leadership, comprising Venugopal, Chaudhary, Rawat and Ambika Soni are briefing the Gandhis on the profile of each candidate being considered for the Cabinet berth.

Brainstorming had been going in Delhi to consider a blend of experience and young faces that could correct the negative narrative of the Amarinder government and arrest anti-incumbency. Criteria like age factor, performance of ministers in the Captain Amarinder government and allegations of corruption are bound to be key factors in the selection of the Council of Ministers.

With the CM and two Deputy CMs seated, a total of 15 names for the Council of Ministers are to be announced. This does not include the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

Brainstorming for 15 names

Besides the CM and two Deputy CMs, 15 names are to be announced for the Council of Ministers. Sources say leadership doesn’t want to drop all ministers who were part of the Capt Amarinder Cabinet

Differences crop up

Differences are learnt to have emerged among the CM, his deputy Sukhjinder Randhawa and PCC chief Navjot Singh Sidhu over appointment of AG, selection of DGP and allocation of portfolio of Home and Local Bodies

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